Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Cherry Glitter Art for Kids: Paint with Nature

Science and art for kids

It’s cherry season, and I’m ready to make some nature-based art! I’ve been super obsessed with science and art activities lately. This one is no exception. Instead of just smooshing a bowl of cherries to get that pretty red juice out for our little artists to paint with, turn the entire process into a science exploration.

Give your child a bowl of cherries—only after you’ve prepped for the mess. Cherries stain and this activity creates splashes, splatters and all kinds of staining possibilities. Cover the table with an opened garbage bag, cardboard or a cheapo vinyl tablecloth. Dress your child in “messy” clothes or his art smock.  When he’s ready to experiment, set the cherries down in front of him and let him make his own discoveries. Encourage him to use all of his senses:
Nutrition for kids

Taste: Take the pits out and let him try the cherries.

Smell: Take a sniff to see if they smell as sweet as they taste.

Sight: Look at the cherries. Sure, he knows that they are round and red, but what’s inside? Help your child to investigate all of the parts of the fruit with his eyes.
Preschool nature

Feel: Let your child squish and mush them between his fingers (he’ll start creating the paint for the project).
Process Exploration

Sound: Even though cherries don’t make an actual sound, he can listen for the drips and drops that come out of them as he squishes the fruit.

Now he’s ready to start the art-making.

Here’s What You’ll Need:

·        Cherries

·        A bowl

·        A paintbrush

·        Paper

·        Glitter

·        Vegetable oil

Here’s What to Do:

1.     Take the squished cherries from the sensory exploration and let your child finger paint with them on plain white paper.

2.     Add a capful of vegetable oil to the rest of the cherry mush. Have your child stir it with the paintbrush. The oil will make the cherry paint easier to spread and help to hold in some of the glitter that you’re about to add.

3.     Pour in sparkling glitter. Use as much or as little as your child wants. Stir it together.
Cherry sparkles

4.     Paint! Your child is ready to spread his natural glitter creation all over a piece of paper. He can make abstract art, shapes, swirls or a picture of whatever he pleases.
Childrens activities

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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Frozen Color Mixing: Abstract Art Activity with a Science Splash

primary color art

Frozen ice paint! I’ve been kind of obsessed with it lately. Maybe it’s my love for creating preschool art activities that are infused with science or maybe it’s that it’s mid-summer and I feel like I’m living on the sun. Not that I‘m complaining, but after a super-cold winter that was packed with almost daily school delays because of the extreme cold (I’m not entirely sure what difference two hours makes in the temperature, but it sure was chilly) the summer heat seems warmer than usual. So, I’m back again, posting an ice activity.

Combine abstractly artsy splatter paint (ala Jackson Pollock) with the science of color mixing and states of matter transformations. Sounds like a lot in one activity, right? It’s actually surprisingly simple – and magnificently messy! I highly suggest that you bring the kids outside to make this frozen art. Pick an area that is far away from your patio furniture or anything that isn’t easily cleaned. It’s more than likely that your child will get messy too. Dress her in clothes that you don’t care about getting dirty and let her run through the sprinkler before she goes back inside. It won’t get her completely clean but it will give you a head start. Now, get ready for a messy way to play with the primary colors!

Here’s What You’ll Need:

·        An ice cube tray

·        Water

·        Food coloring or colorful drink mix

·        Three buckets, jars or large-sized plastic ware containers

·        White paper, poster board or an old white sheet

Here’s What to Do:

1.     Make ice cubes in the primary colors (red, yellow and blue). Drip a drop of food coloring into each compartment (one color per compartment) and add water. You can also use red, yellow and blue drink mixes.

2.     Put the tray in the freezer. Ask your child to predict what will happen to the colorful water. Check in on the ice to observe how it is freezing.

3.     Fill three buckets or containers with water. Add a few drops of food coloring (again, one red, one yellow and one blue) to each container of water.

Art and science

4.     Bring the water outside. Place each container on a piece of paper or a white sheet. You can also prop up another piece of paper standing up behind the container.

5.     Pop the frozen ice cubes out of the tray. Bring them outside.
Frozen science

6.     Mix the colors! Have your child pick one ice cube color and toss it into a different hue. For example, she can through blue into yellow. Let her splash away, tossing the ice into the water with enough force to make the colors spray out onto the paper. As the ice starts to melt the water will change colors. Ask your child to figure out why the yellow water is suddenly turning green (this is a great opportunity to talk about color mixing and making secondary colors from the primaries, as well as solid to liquid melting transformations).
Ice art
Frozen colors
primary color art


7.     Repeat the ice tossing step with the other color containers. Continue on adding more ice and more colors to each container. As the colors splash out they will hit the paper, creating an abstract piece of art. You can reposition or move the containers to cover different parts of the paper.
Water colors

Process Art

Are you looking for more combo art and science activities to try? Follow my Pinterest board for ideas. Or you can check out some of these ice art and science activities:

Glow in the dark ice paint

Glowing paint

Layered color cubes

Frozen paints

Chalk ice finger paints

Chalk finger paints

Glitter ice paint

Sparkle kids' activity
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Monday, July 21, 2014

Paper Bag Puppets: Kids' Photo Art Activity!

Kids' pretend play
Paper bag puppets are hardly creatively groundbreaking when it comes to kids’ activities. I remember making faces on the flaps of lunch sacks as a young child, and loving every minutes of it. As an adult, I’ve made what feels like a zillion puppets with my own son as well as the children who I teach. Even though they are so simple to make, kids seem to always enjoy making a new pretend play friend out of a boring old paper bag.

So, I’m going to skip the traditional draw a face on the flap paper bag puppet directions. You’ve probably been there and done that and are now looking for something a little different. Yes? Ok, so on to the photo puppet. Instead of drawing it, have your child choose a photo (or a few) of a person or an animal. If your child is completely obsessed with a cartoon character, print out a picture of her favorite animated friend to use instead.

Here’s What you’ll Need:

·        A headshot photo

·        Scissors

·        Clear drying school glue

·        A lunch-sized paper bag

Here’s What to Do:

1.     Cut out the face from the picture.

2.     Place the bag flap side up and to the top on your work surface.

3.     Glue the photo to the flap.

Paper bag artAnimal art

What next? Your child can get as creative as she wants to decorate the rest of the bag – both the front and back. I tried three different ways of decorating, but your child might opt for something different. Let her help you to choose the materials that she’ll use if she’s not into one of these methods:

Feathered Animal Friends: Make a bird or a mixed-up animal creature (we made a cat-bird). Glue colorful craft feathers to the bag to add a soft, fluffy texture.

Animal Art Activity
Textured Paint: An easy way to create ‘fur’ for an animal puppet. Pour pools of tempera paint onto a plate (I used the lid of an old plastic-ware container). Use a pom pom or piece of crumbled tissues paper to make paint prints. Dip the pom pom/tissue into the pant and then press it onto the bag. Your child can mix and blend a few colors too!

Puppy Puppet

Textured art activity
Pipe Cleaner Arms: Poke two holes in the bag, one on each side. Make the holes directly across from each other. You may need to do this step or your younger child. Thread a pipe cleaner through to create two arms.

Photo Craft
Collage Clothes: Use tissue, construction paper or fabric scraps to collage clothes onto the character puppet.

Puppet craft-making
When your child is done with the art-making, she’s ready for pretend play! She can create her own scene, act out a story book or you can use the puppet to role play. If your child is stressing about starting school, is apprehensive about how to handle her new puppy or is having sibling issues, you can use a photo puppet to act out a tense scene and ease your child’s anxiety. Doing this helps her to explore decision-making skills, problem solve and work on constructive communication in a safe environment. For example:

·        First day of school: before school starts ask your child’s new teacher for a picture or ask if it’s ok to snap one at an orientation day. Make a teacher puppet and play act a day at school with your child.

·        New animal: You have some concerns that your 4-year-old will brashly mishandle your new puppy or kitten. Create an animal puppet and cover it with soft craft fur. Use it to show your child how to properly ‘meet’ a new animal. Put the puppet on your hand and let her put her own hand in front of her pretend play friend’s face to smell. Have her gently pet the puppet, letting her know if she’s getting too rough.

·        Baby in the family: Same deal as the new animal. Before she mishandles the baby, try patting the puppet’s head or stroking its cheek.

·        Friend or sibling conflict: Act out a conflict that your child is having by making a big sister puppet or playdate pal.

Are you looking for more creative crafts to try out with your child? Follow my Pinterest board for ideas!
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Saturday, July 19, 2014

Glow in the Dark Ice Paint: Kids' Science and Art

Ice Art

Break out the black light and tonic water! No, I’m not talking about having a 70s theme disco and drinks party (but if you’ve got the velvet Elvis to put up, why not?). What I am talking about is a science and art exploration making glow in the dark ice cube paint.

I’ve been kind of obsessed with icy art lately. Not only can your child make colorful cubes, but she can also create her own glowing paint. I’ve done DIY glow paints before, but adding a frozen edge makes this activity even more fun for the kids.  Discover the wonder of tonic water and its glowing properties. Add on a liquid to solid to liquid transformation and you can compound the science learning for your child.

Ice cube activity
Here’s What You’ll Need:

·        An ice cube tray

·        Tonic water

·        Glitter

·        Dark paper

·        A black light

Here’s What to Do:

1.     Fill up an ice cube tray with tonic water. Add some glitter to a few cubes for added sparkle.

2.     Put the tray into the freezer.

3.     Pop the cubes out of the tray when they are frozen. In the regular light they look just like run of the mill ice cubes.

Science for kids
4.     Turn off the lights and turn on the black light. Like magic, the cubes begin to glow! Before your child ‘paints’ with the cubes she can stack them, turn them around and investigate the glowing ice.

Glitter Cubes
5.     Paint with the cubes. Have your child run the cubes over dark paper, leaving behind a trail of glowing, glittering water.

Childrens' science
Paint Project
Even though you won’t have much other than a wet sheet of paper left behind to show for the activity, you can keep it going by snapping a few pics during the process and then talking about them later. You can also repeat the activity with regular water to make a comparison (the regular water won’t glow). Ask your child why she thins one glows and the other doesn’t (hint: it’s the quinine in the tonic). You can also talk to her about states of matter and ask her to tell you what happened as she warmed the solid ice by painting with it.

Science art
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Friday, July 18, 2014

10 Ways to Prep for Process Art

Craft activities for kids
Do you love making art with your kids, but can’t stand the mess? A few years ago I taught a preschool art class called “Make a Mess”. The enrollment in that class surpassed any other- by far. Why? More parents than not told me that they would rather someone else (or someplace else) deal with the mess that painting, printing, paper mache and just about every other project caused.

Messy art activities provide ways a-plenty for young children to engage in the creative process, explore through their senses and use their imaginations. The freedom that splashing through a bowl of paper mache paste or smooshing chunky finger paints offers is something that – given the opportunity – many adults would like to experience again too. When else in life can we gleefully squeeze puddles of glue onto paper or splatter temperas around like Jackson Pollock? That said, it isn’t always easy for a busy parent to let go and set up a messy play station at home. While I’m certainly an advocate for this type of activity, as a mom I completely understand that the thought of glitter getting stuck in the floor boards or water colors spilling onto the kitchen table can make any mom cringe.

paint projects
What can you do to tame the mess, but still let your little artist explore to her hearts content? There are a ton of ways to protect your work surface. You can:

1.     Cover it with a flattened garbage bag.

2.     Use cardboard (the side of an old appliance box works well).

3.     Buy a super-inexpensive vinyl table cloth to use as a tarp.

4.     Use an actual tarp.

5.     Get some of that cheap-o one-time use plastic sheeting that home improvement stores sell for house painting projects.

6.     Layer newspaper over newspaper.

7.     Go outside, where you can easily hose off the mess.

8.     Try a shower curtain liner (I suggest using the chemical-free kind).

9.     Try a shower curtain.

Child art

Process materials
So, if you’re wondering why there are only nine items on the list (wouldn’t 10 be standard?)- here’s why. I’ve saved my favorite for last. Foam core board. It’s thick, with a layer of foam in the middle for absorption and protection and comes in sheets that are large enough to cover a fairly sizable area. I use scraps from other projects to protect my table when crafting. If you’ve been following my posts regularly (and if you haven’t – go ahead and check them out) you’ve probably noticed a running theme. My favorite foam core board is featured in almost every activity. Seriously, check out the photos and you’ll see that it serves as a backdrop for everything from frozen ice paintings to styrofoam letter prints. I believe it made its first appearance in a finger painting post, and has since gotten covered with sparkles, absorbed tissue paper water colors and held its fair share of modeling clay.

Alphabet Art

Frozen art

Prep for the mess
If an artsy mess is causing you stress, go ahead and try one (or a combo) of these prep ideas. They won’t keep your child’s hands from getting covered with sticky clay or her face from the random paint streak, but that’s what baths are for, right?

Are you looking for art activities that encourage exploration? Check out and follow my Pinterest process art board for ideas!
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Thursday, July 17, 2014

Frozen Art Activity: Science and Colors for Kids

Preschool science
Frozen ice painting is super-fun on its own. Add in a science-y layer and your kids can spend a hot summer day getting artsy while making their own discoveries. I’ve done chalk ice, glitter ice and plain old colorful ice paintings before. This time I wanted to try something a little bit different. Instead of just freezing colorful water, I started with plain old ice. As the water froze, we checked in on the cubes and began breaking them up to form layers of ice within ice.

After a few layers started forming, I poked a hole through the top with a half straw and added some food coloring. You can sub brightly-colored drink mix or juice if you want to make this edible (not that food coloring isn’t edible, but what kid really wants to eat ice with no flavor?). What happened? Read on to see…

Frozen colors
Here’s What You’ll Need:

·        Ice cube tray

·        Water

·        Food coloring or brightly-colored juice (you’ll need a dropper or pipette if you go this route)

·        Straws

·        Paper

Before you begin the painting part of this activity, prep your work area for the mess. Food coloring stains easily. Protect your kitchen table, floor or wherever else your child is working by layering a garbage bag over a piece of cardboard. Or, go outside and work in the grass.

Here’s What to Do:

1.     Fill the ice cube tray almost all of the way up with water. Ask your child what she thinks will happen before you pop it into the freezer. Use some science vocab and tell her that she is making a prediction or hypothesis.

2.     Check in on the ice. Let your child poke it to see if it’s changed from a liquid to a solid. As it begins to harden let some of it melt or have your child poke it hard enough to break the surface ice. Put the ice back into the freezer.

3.     Take the tray out again. Have your child poke straws through the top of each cube (one straw per ice compartment). If it won’t go through, ask her what she can do to make the straw move into the ice. Hint: It needs to sit out and melt a little. Talk about what’s changing in the cubes that allows the straw to go through the ice. Place the cubes back into the freezer again.

4.     Bring out your ice, again. Drop a few drips of food coloring or juice into each straw top. If some of the water has gone up the straw and frozen, let the tray sit out until the ice melts enough to let the coloring in. How will your child know that it’s melting? She’ll see the color slowly move into the bottom of the clear cube. As it moves through, she’ll see streaks and veins of color in the layers of ice. She can add more than one color per cube to see what happens. Put the ice back in the freezer.

Freezer art

Kids' science
5.     Wait a half hour or so and bring out the ice. Pop the cubes out, keeping the straws in them to use as handles.

Paint activity
Science for kids

6.     Put the colorful cubes on plain white paper. Your child can use the straw handles to paint with. If no color is coming off of the ice right away, ask your child why (the streaks of color may not start until the second or middle layer of ice- meaning that your child needs to let the cube melt before she can paint).

Ice activity
Your child can also explore the colored ice in other ways. Fill two clear cups with water – one warm (from the tap, not boiling) and one cold. Ask her to predict which cup will help the ice melt faster. Place a colorful cube in each cub and watch what happens. Your child can play the role of a scientist, figuring out why one cub melted faster than the other. If you’re using an edible juice version, your child can drink the colorful water from the cool cup!
Science colors

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